Album reviews

Black Tusk - T.C.B.T.

Black Tusk has both a reputation and a following that stretch far beyond Savannah. The groundbreaking thrash, punk, and metal band is known for creating a sound that relies heavily on sonics and works incredibly well in the recorded medium, and their latest T.C.B.T. might be the best example of that fact.

There’s so much to unpack on a record like this. It feels highly conceptual, both in production and on a thematic level. In terms of production, the record finds the balance between metal and punk and really rides the line delicately—in a way that I’ve rarely heard other bands do very well. There are times where you feel more like you’re listening to a punk record, and vice versa. That’s the beauty and magic of T.C.B.T.; it has an energy and vibe that transcends traditional stylistic labels.

Take “Agali,” for example. This is a song that could’ve easily been a Motorhead song, but with some re-tooling it very well could’ve also belonged to a band like Black Flag. That’s what makes it uniquely Black Tusk. The guitars on this song are full, in their heaviness and brutal punch, and the drums feel as if they’re on the edge of explosion.

“Ill At Ease” may be my favorite song on this record. Opening up with some seriously blistering feedback followed by a disgustingly fuzzy guitar chug, the song quickly becomes a frantic call-and-response filled with unapologetic fury. It’s maybe one of my favorite songs I’ve heard in a long time, in any genre.

“Orange Red Dead” is one of the more intriguing songs on the album from a performance standpoint, thanks to the powerful and instantly hooky drum intro. It’s also an example of the sonics of this record and how far a great drum sound can go in making a good record great.

If you’re looking for the new classic metal album, look no further than T.C.B.T.

For more on Black Tusk, visit blacktusk.bandcamp.com

McLEOD - On the Waves of the Unsetting Sun

McLEOD is primarily the recording project of Thomas Mole, but the band has expanded in recent years to become a full-fledged unit. Their 2018 release On the Waves of the Unsetting Sun, is a beautiful portrait of ambient space pop that has all the right amounts of psychedelia. “Bathysphere” is a gorgeous song that sets the tone for what’s to come, with its groove-oriented rhythm section and reverb-y approach to production. That continues on “Soul Rise,” which would fit in well on any indie rock playlist.

“Blue Eyed Jesus” is a shining moment on the album, which reminds me a lot of The Pernice Brothers. Mole’s falsetto is compelling and really complimentary to the nature of the song, and the angular lead guitar makes it a really engaging and almost entrancing song to listen to. There’s really nothing here I didn’t enjoy, though the instrumental interlude (complete with spoken word sample) may not be something you’ll sit through on every listen. That said, I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t want to give these songs a second listen.

“Ghosts” is probably my personal favorite. The rotary effect on the guitar and vocals is particularly pleasant sonically, and the drum sound is the kind of thing producers and engineers get envious of. Melodically, it’s by far the most perfectly executed song in terms of the marriage between accessible pop and left-field psychedelia.

For more on McLEOD, visit mcleodband.bandcamp.com

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